Steven Isserlis (7 January)
Steven Isserlis’s musical ancestry might be described as a veritable conservatoire. His grandfather, Julius Isserlis, was one of twelve Jewish musicians allowed to leave Russia in the 1920s to promote Russian culture; his father was a keen amateur musician, his mother a piano teacher, and his two sisters, violist Annette and violinist Rachel, are both busy orchestral musicians. Born in London, he went to the City of London School, which he left at the age of 14 to study with Jane Cowan in Scotland. This was followed by three years under the tutelage of Richard Kapusinski at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
He has commissioned or premiered numerous works, including Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil (written for him), and music by Thomas Adés, Stephen Hough, Lowell Liebermann, David Matthews, Mikhail Pletnev, Wolfgang Rihm and John Woolrich. Hough and Pletnev also feature as chamber music collaborators in festivals organised by Isserlis, along with other long time collaborators such as Joshua Bell, Olli Mustonen, Andras Schiff, Denés Várjon and Tabea Zimmermann.
As Artistic Director of the International Musicians’ Seminar in Prussia Cove, Cornwall, he is a passionate teacher, and his writings include two books for children on lives of composers. He has also published several editions and arrangements for Faber Music was an advisor on a new edition of the Beethoven cello sonatas.
There is also a large Isserlis discography, including the Bach cello suites, the Brahms sonatas and concertos by Dvořàk, Elgar, Prokofiev, Schumann and Walton.
He also regularly writes and talks about music and has interviewed many of the world’s leading musicians including Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Maxim Vengerov, Vasily Petrenko, Daniel Harding and Sir Mark Elder.